Ordering dynamics of blue phases entails kinetic stabilization of amorphous networks

Oliver Henrich, Kevin Stratford, Davide Marenduzzo, Michael E. Cates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The cubic blue phases of liquid crystals are fascinating and technologically promising examples of hierarchically structured soft materials, comprising ordered networks of defect lines (disclinations) within a liquid crystalline matrix. We present the first large-scale simulations of their domain growth, starting from a blue phase nucleus within a supercooled isotropic or cholesteric background. The nucleated phase is thermodynamically stable; one expects its slow orderly growth, creating a bulk cubic. Instead, we find that the strong propensity to form disclinations drives the rapid disorderly growth of a metastable amorphous defect network. During this process the original nucleus is destroyed; re-emergence of the stable phase may therefore require a second nucleation step. Our findings suggest that blue phases exhibit hierarchical behavior in their ordering dynamics, to match that in their structure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13212-13215
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Volume107
Issue number30
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2010

Keywords

  • liquid crystalline matrix
  • blue phases
  • liquid crystals
  • blue phase nucleus
  • disclinations
  • hierarchical behavior

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